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Beorhtric (DNB00)

BEORHTRIC or BRIHTRIC, king of the West Saxons (d. 802), of the royal race of Cerdic, succeeded Cynewulf on the throne of Wessex 785. In his days, in 787, the Northmen first landed in England, coming in three ships, and landing on the coast of Dorsetshire. When the 'reeve' heard of it he rode to the place, and because he knew not who they were he bade take them to the king's town, and they slew them there. Beorhtric was jealous of Ecgberht, who was an ætheling, or a member of the royal house, and, it is said, sought to slay him. Ecgberht fled to the court of Offa, king of the Mercians. Beorhtric, however, would not let him tind shelter there. He sent an embassy to Offa, and in 787 married Eadburh, daughter of the Mercian king. This marriage naturally turned Offa against Ecgberht. who was suspected of wishing to gain the West Saxon throne for himself, and the two kings drove him from England. Beorhtric was unfortunate in his marriage. Eadburh was an ambitious and unscrupulous woman, and he allowed her to have too much power. She hated everv one whom her husband favoured, and those whom she hated she accused falsely, that the king might put them to death. If her accusations were disregarded, she killed them by poison. Now the king greatly loved a young ealdorman, whose name seems to have been Worr (A.-S. Chron, 800), and as Eadburh knew that it would be useless for her to bring an accusation against him she killed him by poison. It so happened that Beorhtric also tasted this poison, not knowing what it was, and so died. Such is the story in Asser's 'Life of Ælfred,' and the writer says that he was told it by King Ælfred himself. It is copied by Simeon of Durham and William of Malmesbury. The Chronicle simply records the deaths of Beorhtric and the ealdorman Worr, coupling them together in a marked way. Beorhtic was buried at Wareham. He left no children, and was succeeded by the ætheling Ecgberht in 802 (according to most authorities in 800; but see Will. Malm., ed. Hardy, i. 60, E.H.S.)

[Anglo-Sax. Chron.; Asser de Rebus gestis Ælfredi, 471, M.H.B.; Simeon Dun. 672, M.H.B.; Will. Malm. ii. 113.]

W. H.